Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Saw Dead People

We got off to a late start this morning... I can't decide if I'm sleeping late because of ongoing jet lag, increased physical activity every day, or a certain glee in knowing my children are waking someone else up at ungodly hours every morning. I miss my kids deeply, and I miss my husband like crazy, and 90% of my time I wish they were here with me. But from about 7:00-9:00 in the morning, I'm kind of enjoying my lack of parental responsibilities.

Once we were finally up and about, we planned to go to Versailles - but we didn't have the right Metro tickets and I was cranky and harassed and didn't want to wait the half hour for the next train to arrive, so we postponed that. Tomorrow, I think.

Instead, we went to the Catacombs, which involved a certain amount of arguing and near-tantrum-throwing between myself and a concerned, well-intentioned, misguided Frenchman who did not believe Mary was capable of getting herself through. And my comment that we would be happy to drag her by the hair if we needed to seemed largely unappreciated. But eventually we won our argument - Mary does a really, really good big-eyed pathetic woe-is-me look, I need to have her in the car if I'm ever pulled over for speeding - and headed down. 180-some steps down, over 500 meters on uneven surfaces underground, and 100-odd steps back up - Mary made it the whole way, and was a real trouper throughout. I'm pretty proud of her.

The Catacombs, you ask? Yes, they are just as creepy and macabre as one might expect. My mother is not sad to have missed that bit. But they're also impressive, and of course in my psychologist sort of way I can't help but wonder, what does it take for someone to conceive of such a project in the first place, and then why on earth could they not have stopped in a less excessive manner? There are literally millions of human remains organized into hallways and artwork; when I saw the word "millions" on the brochure at the entrance, I was skeptical, given the slight propensity for French enthusiasm. But, yes, really, millions. I didn't count - couldn't have if I'd wanted to - but it was endless, and the public isn't allowed into all of the areas. Crazy, really. Worth the time, just to see that the human mind really does have an endless capacity for obsessions when it wants to.

From there, we were off to Sacre Coeur, where there are les funiculaires, sort of an elevator/ski-lift contraption to take you to the top of the very steep Montmartre. Except it was out of order, so instead we got to ride on shuttle buses driven by individuals whose regard for human life is considerably less heightened than my own. Their need for speed was constant, and in fact was fulfilled - on busy, crowded city streets they were reaching 90 kph. I know because my eyes would get bigger with each passing mark on the spedometer. And then they would brake VERY ABRUPTLY at any given stop light. I know because I have two big, dark bruises on my thigh (no, I will not take a picture, and you are welcome) that precisely match two of the corners on the ticket-collection device. The very sharp, metal, rectangular, angry ticket-collection device.

Mary was brave (stupid? Nahh... brave) enough to relax on the return shuttle. She seriously did work hard today; she is not normally a napper. Especially under life-threatening circumstances.

But the church, and the view, are gorgeous. Again, worth the visit. Especially because the hill and the turns are so steep that you barely glimpse the view until, BANG, it's all there, laid out before you.

We had dinner at L'Hippo, a local chain-type establishment... nicer than Applebee's, think more along the lines of Legal Seafoods or Vinnie Testa's, those of you in the New England area. My sisters were enthralled by L'Hippo himself, so we went, even though they advertised "American style food." Well, it was not American-style, it was much better than that, and we overate terribly.

And now we're back at the apartment. Sarah had some serious, studious research to do on the computer tonight - she had to find a pattern for her new yarn - and so I didn't get on the computer until late. I swore I was going to bed early... and then my mom came back from Marseilles and asked me to upload her photos so she could empty her camera (with a shout-out to Calvin for the loan!), and how could I only look at one set of photos from the day?? This traveling with a digital camera is dangerous, sleepwise...

So, here's a few from my mother's trip southward... she did, indeed, rejoin us, instead of running away to the Mediterranean forever. I'm not actually sure why, now that I think of it.


lisa said...

When we were in Paris last there was a kerfuffle about the catacombs, and some enterprising people who were organising illegal (and seditious?) movie nights down there. Fascinating.

Oh and I remembered the place Toby and I both loved, with the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. Thanks to Wiki, here are the details: The Musée de Cluny, officially known as Musée National du Moyen Âge, is a museum in Paris, France. It is located in the Ve arrondissement at 6 Place Paul Painlevé, south of the Boulevard Saint-Germain, between the Boulevard Saint-Michel and the Rue Saint-Jacques.

I am muchly enjoying reading about your adventures.

Di said...

I had thought about suggesting the catacombs to you in my original post but wasn't sure how you felt about dead people! It is a pretty impressive sight! Apparently in Palermo in Sicily there are entire bodies wearing clothes and everything! I should have said that near Sacre Coeur - enroute by foot back down the hill is the most amazing church just across the road from the Abbesses Metro (which is one of the pretty ones with the Art Deco entrance overhead just in case you hadn't seen one of them and wanted to!)

Glad that you are enjoying yourselves in one of my favourite cities!!